We can become so accustomed to the Easter story that we forget the intense human response to the events as they unfolded real-time. This was a supremely emotional event for all involved. That’s why we call it The Passion. We have the benefit of knowing what was to happen on Sunday morning and the distance in time somewhat numbs the emotions. Maybe too numb.
I’m convinced that we cannot grasp the magnitude and meaning of Easter Sunday, nor experience the Joy and Hope it offers if we have not first considered the weight and sorrow of Good Friday, and all that seemed lost.
I can imagine it would be easy for many of Jesus’ followers to say to themselves on Saturday morning, “Well, I guess I was wrong. He must not have been the Messiah after all. I’ve been duped.”
Whenever I head down a road that I believe God intends me to walk and then my world suddenly goes crazy and life takes unexpected wrong turns, my first thought is usually something along these same lines. “I must have been wrong. I must have misunderstood what God was doing in my life. Surely this is not what He intended for me, is it?”
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
It is impossible for us to think the way God thinks. There is no one like Him. The way He works is a mystery to us. We can’t understand what He’s doing any more than your dog can comprehend what work you do on your computer.
We cannot grasp His mind, but on the cross, He has laid bare His heart for us. He didn’t just talk about Love. He showed us how huge His Love for us is and the extent to which He is willing to sacrifice Himself for us. I love how The Message puts it:
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?
Romans 8:31-32, The Message
Everything He gave up, lay down, and sacrificed was because of His great love for you. Jesus chose to go to the cross. He was not forced. He was not a captive prisoner. He was not killed by people who simply misunderstood who He was. Despite how it looks to our human perspective, the people who did such awful things to them were playing along with His plan.
I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.
He told Peter, and us, that He could call out to God and instantly more than 12 legions of angels would be there to serve Him (Mt 26:52-54). Don’t think for one minute that He died because He was unable to overcome the opposition. This was His choice because it was the only way to rescue the people He loves. We are wholly incapable of rescuing ourselves.
But, Oh! How difficult it was for those who loved and followed Him to understand all this on that dark Friday so many years ago.
When I am hurt and confused and disappointed in the way God is (or is not) moving and working, I can find rest in thinking of today as Saturday. A glorious Resurrection is just around the corner, but I can’t see it yet. Yes, Jesus has conquered death and sin, but until He returns or calls me Home, I won’t see the fullness of all that He has redeemed and resurrected.
I can’t wait for Sunday! Can you?